On Monday, August 12, 2013, the Red Wing City Council approved two solar electric projects for 2013 – City Hall and the Public Works Maintenance Shop. With this approval, the City of Red Wing will continue the construction of a total of six solar projects that will have a capacity to produce 217kW of electricity. This would be the equivalent of the electricity used for 30 to 40 single family homes for one year. In 2012, the City Council approved solar electric projects for the Red Wing Fire Station (completed in March 2013), the Solid Waste Facility (completed in July 2013), the Community Development Building, and the Public Works Building. The four remaining projects should be completed by the end of 2013.
These solar electric projects will have an expected life of 40 years, or more, and are estimated to produce approximately $2,250,000.00 of electricity in that time. The total cost for all six projects will be $1,906,654.00. The cost for the City of Red Wing’s portion of these projects will be $166,753.00 or 9%. The remaining expenses will be paid for with grants from Xcel Energy & the State of Minnesota, and financing investment from Newport Partners, LLC.
A portion of the energy that is produced by these solar electric systems will be used to pay back the financing from Newport Partners. This should be accomplished within 6 ½ years and the remaining savings, $1,600,000.00, will be used to reduce the cost of electricity at the six buildings where these systems are being constructed. This means the City of Red Wing will recapture nearly 10 times our original investment in energy savings over the expected life of these solar electric systems.
On Tuesday, August 13, at an open house for the Red Wing Ignite Building, City Council President Lisa Bayley was able to talk with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton about the City’s solar projects and show him the future site for the solar car port that will provide electricity to the Ignite Building and City Hall. Governor Dayton was very happy when Council President Bayley informed him that all of the solar panels for these projects will be made in Iron Mountain, MN. The Governor is a strong supporter for products that are “Made in Minnesota” and alternate energy within our state.
Hopefully the City of Red Wing will continue to find ways to invest in more solar projects throughout our community. City staff and the Sustainability Commission are looking for more projects for 2014 and beyond, which will help us reduce costs and reduce the City’s overall carbon footprint moving forward. Other projects that are currently being worked on here in the City of Red Wing to support the environment include: converting street lights to L.E.D. technology, upgrades to all city building HVAC systems, storm water control systems, L.E.D. lighting retrofits for the city’s parking ramps, replacing old fleet vehicles with new models that get better fuel mileage, and taking used oil from our fleet vehicles to heat the maintenance shop at Public Works. The City of Red Wing is committed to helping to protect the environment for its citizens and future generations. This commitment was affirmed once again by the City Council when they voted unanimously to move forward with the solar electric projects for 2013.